The Timespan Museum highlights the historical themes of the Helmsdale area. Local stories, past ways of life, folklore and objects tell the story. From prehistory to the present, the illustrated timeline gives the big picture.
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Collections and displays include domestic life, blacksmith’s tools, cooper’s tools, crofting, and fishing paraphernalia. The lives of the men and women who followed shoals of fish are highlighted along with salmon fishing in the River Helmsdale.
Information on the 1869 gold rush is on display. A storytelling room has animated films that cover the area’s myths, legends, and superstitions. Visitors can discover what life was like through a reconstructed croft, byre, smithy, and shop from 150 years ago. Each of these has audio narratives. Visitors to the museum can access further information on any of the displays.
An exhibition is presented by community groups where their personal stories are told along with photos, and history research. An archive provides further information on local history.
The museum’s garden has herbs from all of Scotland, indigenous plants, birds, and wildlife. A geology garden with a collection of rock specimens shows off the types found in Sutherland and Caithness. These include Lewisian gneiss, red granite, Jurassic sandstone and fossil coral. There is a seating area with a view of the river in which otters and seals are occasionally seen.
There is a changing art exhibition at the museum. Relax with a coffee or lunch in the café with views of the river and the bridge.
Timespan Heritage Museum and Arts Centre
Dunrobin St, Helmsdale, KW8 6JA
Tel. 0 1431 821 327
Open: late March-end Oct, Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm; Sun, noon-5pm; Nov-late March, weekends, 11am-3pm, Tue 2-4pm
Shop; cafe; parking
Web: Timespan Heritage Museum and Arts Centre
Text and photos © by Barbara Ballard